Welcome to My Blog

Since my dog, Sheena, contracted breast cancer in June, 2011, and we'd been taking walks together, I noticed little gifts of nature from God on almost every walk. I think He sent them to make the pain of knowing I'd soon lose her more bearable. She died on November 27, 2011, and I still see these gifts. I'll post them here for all to enjoy. Some posts may include pictures. If you're in a similar situation with a pet or a family member and want to post gifts like mine or just talk, please, feel free. Please, have your dog spayed or neutered to avoid the heartache my family has been through. I think God was teaching me about “living in the moment,” being thankful to Him, and maybe to not think about the future so much.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I haven't posted in a long time because of dealing with Sheena's death, working on a master's degree in creative writing, and doing the final editing on my third book. This new book, The Diamond Road, came out June 27th from Soul Mate Publishing.  Here's the link to Soul Mate's page for the book:  http://www.soulmatepublishing.com/the-diamond-road/  I had a lot of fun getting to know many Canadians during my research. Believe it or not, they're just like us Americans. They love, have families and homes, they work and play, though some do it in 50 below zero and 20 hours or darkness or sunlight. Golfing at midnight...maybe not for me, but they do it in Canada. I'd appreciate it if you'd check out my book and those of other fine Soul Mate Publishing authors. The back-cover blurb is:
"Devoted to her family and God, American trucker Connie Williams decides to run the ice roads to earn money to pay her beloved father’s mounting bills as he fights kidney failure. Losing him will destroy her. Subconsciously, she feels inadequate because she never went to college like her siblings and still lives life like a teenager.
Canadian professor, rancher, and ice-road trucker Jake Baxter runs the ice roads for money to keep his ranch out of his greedy siblings’ hands. He clings to the ranch because it’s the only thing keeping his parents alive in his heart; their deaths are too fresh in his mind, too overwhelming. He blames God for his parents’ deaths and hates seeing any living creature die.
During Yellowknife, Canada’s ice roads, they will face two truckers fixated on murderous revenge. Connie and Jake and their friends have three short months to solve the mystery of who their attackers are and stop them, or die."

 Since I last posted, I had a long sob in late January and looked at the local humane society's webpage through the tears. Sheena can't be replaced, but my heart said it was time to love a new dog. I looked at their rescued dogs and loved everyone of them, but a German Shepherd  named Gretle caught my eye.  I went sobbing to my husband and explained what was happening. Funny thing was, he'd already been looking at other dogs even before Sheena died. Seeing his grief when he couldn't look when the vet helped Sheena's pain end,  I know why he was looking at new dogs. He needed that unconditional love, too. Even funnier, he'd looked at the exact same dogs I did! Great minds think alike? Funnier yet, I showed him the one I wanted and that was the one he had discounted! Even funnier yet, guess which one we got two days later? That one. He fell in love with her. Gretle had been taken from a barn full of other dogs who never saw the light of day and were starved almost to the point of death. I think it was a puppy mill besides. We've had our ups and downs with Gretie and her health, but she's adapting to my weird family. Knowing we're feeding her more than the rocks she was eating and spoiling her rotten makes me feel good. I recommend rescuing a dog or cat if you like them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Walking with Sheena and Alexis

This picture was taken on August, 30, 2011. The tall tree in the background is a cottonwood I named Elizabeth, after my youngest granddaughter, and used in my book Cottonwood Place. She grows near a creek on the back of my property that butts up to a neighbor’s property. All the trees in the background are mine. The treeline is along our property and they are very tall, but Elizabeth shames them all in her height. She towers over them because she is over 80 feet tall. Alexis was walking Sheena with me and we stopped in the neighbor’s driveway so Sheena could sniff the drainage ditch and the mint growing in it. Elizabeth the tree was over 200 feet away so you can get an even better idea of how tall she is. From my driveway, which lies just beyond the treeline, I can hear her leaves rustling when the wind blows even a little. When I brushed Sheena to get rid of the tons of hair she’d shed, we sat on the back porch in the afternoons and listened to Elizabeth. Most times she and the many birds were the only sounds we’d hear. More than once I got the eerie feeling that heaven was like this: sunny, eternally green, full of trees and blooming all over with flowers, peaceful creeks flowing nearby, with animals that love us romping all around. The music of nature is the only sound in that part of heaven. On my walk with Alexis that summer day, we could hear Elizabeth’s leaves blowing even from that far away, Sheena was happily sniffing and exploring as a dog should, and I was comforted with being able to forget the future for a few minutes. Oh, by the way, Alexis is jealous that I haven’t named a tree after her; I’ll have to find one and remedy that. We have a slightly shorter cottonwood on our property, I'll probably chose that one.      

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Four Horses of Sheena's Last Summer

I’ve been busy with classwork for my master’s in creative writing and decided to take a break. I’ve been thinking about my next blog post. My husband wanting to get two horses helped me decide what to write about, the day Sheena had her surgery to remove the two mammary tumors and spay her. Deciding on having this surgery was left up to me, either do or don’t do. Do it and any other little cancer cells in Sheena’s body may go hog wild and kill her in a few short months, or do it and if there’s no more cancer in her, she’ll live a long time. Don’t do it and the main tumors will keep the other cancers at bay and she may live a long time, or not, it may kill her just as quickly. Weighing the options, I decided to take the bit higher chance of success the vet gave me with having the main tumors removed because it appeared she had no other cancer cells in important systems in her body. I went with “getting rid of the main tumors would rid her of the scourge.” On June 2nd, we drove to the vet after her not having any breakfast and I said goodbye to her and gave her leash to the vet tech.
They asked me if I wanted to wait in the office but I declined. My van was my destination. The secretary said if I needed anything to come in. As the morning progressed, I watched people come and go with their sick and well animals and worked on finishing a book I was writing, The Diamond Road. By noon, I noticed it was hot and I was hungry so I went to McDonald’s and got lunch, especially a big iced tea to last all afternoon. When I returned, the vet was putting stacks of hay in the small fenced-in animal pen next to his parking lot. I parked close and waited to see what kind of animals came out. Barred rock and Rhode Island Red chickens had run around in that area all morning pecking and scratching in the used hay, giving me an amusing show when they ran helter-skelter away and came back when people drove up the vet’s driveway.

As the vet spread the hay in a round metal rack, horses began coming out of a small gray barn behind me. One all white adult, one all-white foal, one appaloosa brown and white adult, and one appaloosa brown and white foal. My first thoughts were of a beautiful family and how much they looked alike, of course, those thoughts were mixed with ones of Sheena’s future and what I’d do if I lost her. As I watched the horses move around the pen and eat I relaxed, living in the moment as I watched the sun glint off their sleek bodies while they ate the hay and looked around for more. They soon came close to my van and I took pictures. Imagine my shock when I realized that the foals weren’t foals. They were adult miniature horses! How the vet got those four horses to look so much alike is a puzzle I’ll leave unsolved. All I cared about was the relaxed way the big horses cared for the little ones, letting them walk under their legs to eat, making sure not to step on them. The two hours I watched them enjoy just being alive energized me that day for what was to happen that night and the next day. Bringing Sheena home and helping her recover, and hope that the best was yet to come. The beautiful pictures from an old cell phone I took as the adult horses shaded the miniatures form the scalding heat of that day are also another gift from God, I think. Cell phone pictures don't usually turn out this clear..  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

This is the way I'd see Sheena many times during the day. She'd follow me to some room or other and lay down with her back to me, but ready to pop up at a moment's notice. I've often wondered if that was just something she did or do other dogs do that? Of course, she'd also sit tight up against me and wait for a head scratch or for me to run her ears through my fingers, I'd swear they were made of silk. That ivory paw and its mate often found themselves stuck under the bathroom door with a black nose between them if I beat her to the bathroom and closed the door. I'll post a "gift" later in the coming week.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The first picture I took at 5:02pm on October 31, 2011

Second picture-5:04pm

     On October 31st, 2011, I was entering the adult education building where I was to teach another section of an adult creative writing course. A thunderstorm had added yet another gloomy day to my week. I’d noticed that Sheena was slowing down and not following me around the house like before, and I let her stay in whatever room I’d just left, usually my office, my writer’s cave. When she woke up, she’d join me, or I’d come back, no problem. I loved the class I was teaching. I had confidence in my presentations and was having fun looking at their various writings and interacting with the students.
Third picture-5:06pm
     It was about 5:00pm and as I drove into the school’s massive parking lot, I saw an extremely large and bright rainbow’s end, just a few feet away. I looked up and saw another slightly less bright rainbow! It was the brightness of a normal rainbow. The first rainbow was so bright and close that I felt like I could touch it. I could see its end at a white pickup truck about 30 feet away. I tried to ignore it because I had to make handout copies for my class, but the urge to take pictures took over. I sat down my bookbag out of the rain and whipped out my cell phone. Other people around me were doing the same and exclaiming how they’d never seen anything like it. My heart began to pound with excitement as I decided to brave the misty remnants of the storm’s rain to try to touch the rainbow’s end. I knew there was no pot of gold, but at least I could say I touched a rainbow’s end.  As I walked toward the white pickup, the rainbow’s end moved away! It took me a few minutes to realize, the angle of the sunlight behind me and the misty rain all around that entire part of the city would make the rainbow move. Duh! But, that wasn’t the point, I was having a few minutes of fun, distraction from what I knew was to come, and re-enacting something I’d done as a child in the fifties, trying to find a small rainbow’s end in a park I and my brothers were playing in. As the sun moved, the rainbow receded from me today. It occurred to me that I was literally IN the rainbow’s end today!
Last picture-5:08pm

I ran to the office where I make student copies of handouts, I asked the secretaries if they’d seen the rainbow. They were as excited as I was. They’d seen it and taken pictures, too. Later in class, I asked my students if they’d seen it. They all had and one lady, who’d driven from a city the storm had just left, said the main rainbow had been so bright that she’d had to put her visor down to see the road ahead of her.
The next day, I saw a picture and article about the rainbows in the local newspaper. Interviewed people gushed about them in the article, many mirroring my student’s need to put their visors down. I know rainbows are God’s promise to not destroy the Earth and humanity by flood again and that some ancient civilizations had varying theories about them, such as the ancient Norse believing they are the bridge to get to Asgard. I took these rainbows as gifts from God that day to give me some peace and beauty in a dark time of my life.
         As I was writing this, it occurred to me that I was surrounded by one of God’s promises that afternoon because anyone to the south of me just the right distance away would see that gigantic bright rainbow and its twin surrounding me. Is that the definition of God’s love? 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

From a Friend-"Jean"

My friend, Jean, couldn't figure out how to post a comment so I'll post it for her. She's not alone, it took me a long time to post my first comment on a blog! Here's her touching story:

We lost our beloved Sarah Genevieve Nov. 28th, 2010. She died unexpectedly of a heart attack in the back seat of my car. Her last few breaths were spent staring helpless into my eyes. She reached out and grabbed my hand with her paw. This was exactly 5 months and 19 days after my mom lost her battle with cancer. We’d been blessed with 10 years of sharing life with the best dog ever. Once again, I felt like the breath had been sucked right out of my body. I was so consumed with grief that I felt I was suffocating. She was always there. Quiet. Patient. Always laying at my feet or following me from room to room. I was so angry with God. I understood why He took my mom, but how could He be so cruel as to take away my beloved pet, too? Within 4 months of Sarah’s death, my cat Thomas, the Big Kahuna, started downhill. I feared losing him, too. Fortunately, he’d only developed diabetes that we caught early, so he seems to be under control now. Sarah has left a hole in our heart that will not be mended until we step foot into Heaven where there is no pain or sorrow. I can't explain why God chose that time in my life to take her from us. I'd be lying if I said at times I didn’t get angry with Him. But, God is bigger than my anger and just as a parent (though it hurts us) allows a child to express their anger at us over a decision we made for their own good, God allows us the grace to do the same. Beyond all of the pain and grief, lies a solid foundation of love and faith. I choose to trust Him. I lean not on my own understanding, but in all my ways I acknowledge Him and His abundant love and I trust Him to direct my path. God has been faithful to bathe me in His peace when I need it. He says, we have not because we ask not, so I ask for peace a lot! He is always faithful.

We swore we’d never get another dog because we felt that getting any dog would be replacing Sarah, and her story is a unique one. The kids were 4 and 7. We’d never had anything but cats, The kids begged for a dog and Scott had just started a 3rd shift position. I didn’t want an inside dog, but wanted protection. So, I asked the kids what sort of dog they’d want if they could have one. It became apparent that they wanted a big yellow dog. We were at IGA in Shelby after that conversation and Erin says with great exclamation, “MOM! Look! This is a picture of our dog!” It was a greeting card with a picture of a golden retriever on it. I bought the card and took it home. I sat the kids down and asked them to make a list of things they wanted in a dog, and we wrote them in the blank card and begin praying for this dog. We looked at Goldens online and, of course, they were way out of our budget. We had checked the pound a few times with no luck. 5 days before Thanksgiving, Erin said, “Mom, let’s go look at the pound again.” We drove down and went inside. I couldn't believe my eyes. In one of the cages, was a dog that looked just like the picture on the greeting card. She was a beautiful 6-month-old pup that spoke to our heart that she was the one. She’d be available for adoption the day after Thanksgiving. It's first come first served, and we were afraid someone would beat us to her, so we made sure we were there Black Friday morning as soon as they opened. She wasn't the perfect dog at first. She was hard to house train and seemed to have been abused by a man in uniform at some point because she had issues with anyone fitting that description. But the miracle, years later we had opened up that prayer card and she matched every wish the kids had prayed for. She was so easy to teach multiple tricks to and was the best watch dog we ever could ask for. She bonded with Erin first and became a good sense of security to me because I knew as long as the kids had her outside with them, no one would come near them.
Erin took her death harder than her grandmother's death. Erin was in such a state that we feared for her health. It's true, nothing will ever take Sarah's place, and none will ever be like her. But, God had different plans for us. He knew what would mend our broken hearts. Tuesday afternoon, February 1, 2011, it was snowing. Scott was at work and Erin reminisced about how much Sarah loved the snow as she watched it come down out the window.
Out of the blue she said, “Let’s go look at the dogs at the pound.” She was relentless, so I caved and we piled in the car and went to the pound. We looked at all the dogs. They all were cute and pathetic and though we found some we liked, none we really wanted. As we wound our way around the cages, Erin walked into another room that at first glance held only empty cages. Then, all of sudden she says, "Ah, mommy! Come here!" I couldn't believe my eyes. It was like looking at a reincarnated Sarah! To make a long story short, we adopted the one-year-old pup and dubbed her Lillian Sarah, who’s a brat, big time! Lillian has this way of looking at you and melting your heart and you forgive her, over and over again. She’s still a puppy in training, but she’s taken to Erin as if they were connected by an umbilical cord. She stands in the shower while Erin baths each day, sleeps beside her bed and won’t let her out of her sight. Erin will begin dog agility training with Lilly through 4H this spring. She’s nothing like Sarah, and does not take Sarah's place. She has her own personality and has wormed her way into all of our hearts. She’s our second chance to make up for any time we neglected Sarah, such as being too busy for a walk. I'd like to introduce you to Lilly. She has her own Facebook page. It is Lilly on YouTube. She also stars in her own 2 videos on YouTube. If you go to YouTube and type in DeeZaster9 it should bring up 'doggy butt run' and 'lilly trips'. Hope you enjoy them and I hope this letter brings you some form of comfort and peace. God is with us through it all.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I noticed these hidden black-eyed Susans down in the ditch on a walk with Sheena. They weren't visible from a car on the road. It was a warm August 18, 2011, morning. I didn’t expect to see such a pretty setup for the photographer in me. As I snapped the flowers from several angles with my cellphone, Sheena got to sniff in the ditch and smelled something interesting. She dropped straight down on her nose, rear in the air rooting for whatever the item was. Knowing her, it was a gopher because there was a gopher hole near by. It’s a wonder that poor farmer had any crops at all, what with all the different animals Sheena and I saw on our walks. I could tell she enjoyed rooting in the dirt and being a dog. We both were “in the moment” for those few minutes and forgot our problems.